Absurdly Addictive Asparagus

By • April 9, 2010 284 Comments

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Author Notes: I guess there's a reason Vosges Haut-chocolat Bacon and Chocolate bars are growing in popularity...it just seems that when you add bacon to almost anything, the salty smokiness heightens the other ingredients. Bacon may rule, but its Italian cousin, Pancetta, is also a contender for the crown. Take a garden fresh ingredient like asparagus and pair it with pancetta and you instantly get Snap, Crackle, Crisp all in one bite. There's something about the bite-size pieces of tender crisp asparagus, buttery leeks, crackly pancetta, and delicately crunchy pinenuts that make it somehow hard for me to stop eating this easy to prepare dish. I tried adding Parmigiano Reggiano at the end, but it overpowered the citrus. After testing the delectable sugar cookie finalist recipes with MonkeyMom tonight, I have to wonder if the number 52 will be even more symbolic when it represents the number of pounds we've gained by the end of the year. Apparently, Asparagus isn't the only thing I'm addicted to— Food52 is rapidly becoming a habit, too. (Sorry for the lack of a photo— the camera is out of commission this week...)kaykay

Food52 Review: The title pretty much says it all. With her recipe, kaykay takes an already promising set of ingredients and artfully combines them in such a way that the resulting dish exceeds the sum of its parts. 2-inch lengths of asparagus, crisp-tender to the bite, take center stage in a savory tangle of leeks, pancetta, garlic, orange zest, parsley and pine nuts. The rendered fat from the pancetta, along with a knob of butter, is just enough to keep the vegetables from being dry without smothering the fresh flavors. The recipe is supposed to serve 4, but we could easily imagine polishing off an entire pan by ourselves. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 4

  • 4 ounces pancetta, cut into 3/8 inch to 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed and sliced into 2 inch pieces on the bias
  • 1 1/4 cups leek, thinly sliced crosswise (white and pale green parts only)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 1-2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. In a large non-stick pan, sauté pancetta, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until crisp and lightly golden.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to pan. Add asparagus pieces and leek and sauté until asparagus is tender crisp, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, lemon and orange zest, toasted pine nuts and parsley and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and salt and serve immediately.

More Great Recipes: Asparagus|Vegetables|Side Dishes

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Comments (284) Questions (7)


2 months ago Food Lover



2 months ago Dana

LOVE this dish. We made it once with pancetta and once with prosciutto and my husband and I slightly prefer the prosciutto. We also made it with green beans instead of asparagus and the dish was equally delicious. My picky 10 year old said he thought it was "pretty good," which means this dish is a winner all the way around.


3 months ago Bec

Sounds amazing!! Simple but a different flavour combination than I'd think of.



4 months ago Christie

This recipe is one of my favorites ever. I have substituted shaved brussel sprouts for the asparagus before and that is really yummy too. I prefer slivered almonds over pine nuts, the crunch is better.


5 months ago Andrea

Made this tonight and was pleased. While the sum of the parts was good and will definitely be repeated, I was quite taken by the pancetta-leek-pine nut mixture. I'm planning to use it with other veggies and other dishes.


5 months ago allans

I made this once and thought it was just okay. Its worth trying again, though.


5 months ago FeedingTheKids

I whipped this up in about 40 minutes start to finish, even WITH peeling the asparagus and doubling the recipe. The only change I made was to cook the leeks down a bit before adding asparagus. This was a show-stealer for the Easter brunch feast! Made the leftovers into a frittata....quite perfect


5 months ago Torontette

Made this for my family for Easter brunch today, and it was a HUGE hit!! Even though pine nuts are $$ it was worth it in my mind. And the zest of the lemon and orange really brighten up the dish, and pair well with the saltiness of the pancetta. YUM!!


5 months ago Lizzy Zheng

Absolutely yummy! I used sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts and cilantro instead of parsley, equally tasty!


5 months ago manan

This was an extremely good and clever way to make asparagus! All the different kinds of ingredients reserved their tastes wonderfully and the lemon/orange aroma...! Just awesome. I had to substitute a couple of things like the pancetta with bacon and pine nuts with walnuts. But it still turned out to be a unique dish. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe. I really love your innovations. Please, keep them coming.


9 months ago Maria

This recipe never fails to make my mouth water every time I see it. Even my kids loved it! - Andrew Stolper


9 months ago Harriet Lobegeiger

Made this for dinner last night, so good! Had a dinner party for five and this asparagus was an absolute success! I skipped the pancetta and just added a little extra butter and then served with some extra orange zest. Looked so fresh and yummy!


10 months ago Annie Lloyd



11 months ago Chef Tempio

I do love swine, makes everthing taste better !!!!


11 months ago Beth Kohl

Although I normally love eating trait, I wouldn't serve anything with pancetta in it at a break the fast (I found this recipe cross listed under veggie dishes for yom kippur….)


11 months ago Beth Kohl

Whoops, traif was autocorrected into trait, which doesn't sound at all delicious.


5 months ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

sexyLAMBCHOPx is a trusted home cook.

I was eyeing this as a vegetarian dish to serve at Passover. It is indeed tagged incorrectly. I plan on making it again without the pancetta..


about 1 year ago lucas2014

How can we be sure that we are making the right test. - James Cullem


about 1 year ago michelle

I made this two nights ago and it turned out really well except I forgot to put the orange zest in. To be honest, I couldn't taste the lemon zest at all even though i used the whole lemon. Would using some of the juice help?


about 1 year ago Kiel Man

Nice good job..I want also share my Philippines Food Recipes blog. http://philippinesfoodrecipes... this blog helps you how to prepare best filipino foods in easy way with no hassle. If you have suggestion or if want to know the recipe of specific filipino foods you want to prepare just let me know i will post it. I'm glad to help you. thank you.


about 1 year ago sharontesche

This is a great recipe. My third time making it, I decided it needed something sweet. The lemon and orange just got overwhelmed by the garlic. So I added a couple of dashes of dried cranberries and it was brighter and slightly more interesting. Maybe working with the citrus would get similar results.